From our history books, we know that salt is a pivotal "ingredient" to the rise of civilizations. This mineral was used in barters or trading, in which its value was quite the same as gold.
Salt is also extremely important in food preservation. Up until now, salt is universally used as a natural preservative, as a seasoning added to food and as a fixed condiment during mealtimes.
We all know this, of course. However, we must take precaution: salt is ever-present in everything we eat that we may be overlooking its negative effects on our body.
Just like the excessive intake of food with sugar, eating food with too much salt is proven to have several negative effects. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even warned on Thursday that Americans in particular are eating too much salty food, and it is damaging their heart health.
Salt Intakes Higher Than The Recommended Amount
In a report featured in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly, the CDC revealed that about 90 percent of adults in the U.S. were consuming more than the recommended daily amount (RDA) of salt which was 2,300 milligrams from 2009 to 2012. The data come from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey or NHANES.
According to the CDC, men aged 19 to 51 years old take in about 4,400 mg of salt per day, while women consumed about 3,100 mg daily.
For adults aged 51 and above, the numbers were significantly lower, while about 90 percent of U.S. children also exceeded the RDA for their age groups. Boys and girls who were aged nine to 13 years old consumed about 3,300 mg and 3,000 mg of salt respectively, a number significantly above the recommended 2,200 mg of salt deemed healthy.
All these statistics mean that three out of every four people in the U.S. are at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
"The evidence is clear: too much sodium in our food leads to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke,"
The Salt We Get From Processed Food
Here's the catch: all these sodium intakes don't come from the salt shaker, which are easier to control and regulate, but from the salt found in processed food we buy and meals we eat in restaurants.
"It's very difficult for individuals to lower consumption on their own, because there's so much sodium in everything they eat," said CDC Director Tom Frieden.
Frieden said salt is found everywhere that even if stop using the salt shaker, you will still be taking in too much salt from processed food.
According to the CDC, food that contain the most sodium are pizza, cold cuts, cured meats, breads, and rolls. "Even food that taste sweet, like cakes and puddings, often contain salt," said Frieden.
Health Risks Of Eating Salty Food
Aside from hypertension and increased risks for heart diseases, eating too much salt affects different parts of the body.
Experts at Harvard University said too much sodium in the body inhibits the absorption of calcium, resulting to a loss of bone mass and increasing the porousness of your bones. This in turn can lead to osteoporosis, or the thinning of the bones.
People with diabetes, women after menopause and elderly people should be careful in their salt intake in particular because too much salt can increase chances for fractures and other skeletal deformations. A previous study in menopausal women found that the loss of hip bone density and the onset of bone loss were connected to the high excretion of salt in the urine.
2. Kidney Stones
Our kidneys are vital as they regulate wastes in our blood, and control the balance of electrolytes, resulting to the excretion of urine. Unfortunately, eating too much salt is bad for our kidneys. Excess amounts of sodium and calcium in our body go into the urine, and increase the likelihood that kidney stones will form. Kidney stones are considered as one of the most excruciating kidney conditions ever, as they can grow large enough to block the flow of urine, and consequently lead to kidney failure.
A high intake of salty food may be a probable cause of stomach cancer, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund.
A 2004 study found that people with the bacteria H. pylori, a major cause of stomach cancer, who had high sodium intake, also had higher risks for eventually developing the disease.
Photo : Dubravko Sorić | Flickr